Quick read: Relive the most exciting battles from the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix
Last year's Spanish Grand Prix didn't provide the most thrilling fight at the front, but it did give us fantastic midfield scraps... relive them now.
Esteban Ocon, Alex Albon & Carlos Sainz vs. Kevin Magnussen
We were forced to wait until nearly the halfway mark of last year’s race before we witnessed any half-decent on-track battles, but it was a spectacle to behold when they did arrive. Just like many other races in the 2020 season, millions of fans worldwide were preparing to complain about the lack of excitement in the race, but thankfully they held their tongues.
Photo credit: Haas
On Lap 28 of the Spanish Grand Prix, Renault’s Esteban Ocon (sitting P10) unknowingly started a battle for points as he breezed past the Haas of Kevin Magnussen into Turn 1. Immediately afterwards, perhaps scrambling to regain composure after being passed, Magnussen succumbed to the superior pace of Alex Albon in the Red Bull behind him (P11), being passed around the outside of Barcelona’s swooping right-handed Turn 3 and dropping back to P11.
The final blow was dealt to Magnussen as the McLaren of Carlos Sainz (P12) exploited the Haas driver’s vulnerability, gracefully sweeping past him on the inside of Turn 4. Despite providing fantastic entertainment, it was a disappointing sequence of events for Magnussen, who had previously been sitting in P9 with 2 points in the bag, but had it all stripped away from him in four corners.
Lando Norris vs. Esteban Ocon & Charles Leclerc
Just a few laps after these battles were concluded, the McLaren of Lando Norris in P11 tried a move around Esteban Ocon at the outside of Turn 4, but was forced to back out and let the Renault scamper into the distance.
Photo credit: McLaren
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in P12 took advantage of this missed opportunity by Norris, immediately sticking to the rear wing of the McLaren ahead and not letting it out of his sight. As they flew through the slight left-handed bend known as Turn 6 and into the Turn 7 and 8 sequence, they were separated by mere hundredths of a second. Once rounding the near-flatout Turn 9, both Norris and Leclerc were aided by the DRS (drag reduction system) zone which allowed the McLaren driver to extend the gap and Leclerc to keep on his tail.
The Ferrari driver kept a bit too close however and overshot the braking zone into Turn 10’s tight left-hander, allowing the young Briton to create a gap once again. Then, to make matters worse for Ferrari (who had both cars running outside of the points), Leclerc’s engine cut out in the middle of Turn 14 and 15’s tight chicane sequence, leaving the Monegasque spun the wrong way around and destitute of power. On Lap 41, Leclerc became the first and only retiree of the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix.
Alex Albon vs. Carlos Sainz
After Carlos Sainz left the pit lane on Lap 43 in P10, he was just 0.1s ahead of the increasingly desperate Alex Albon behind him. The Red Bull driver was struggling to score a single point in P11 while his teammate was challenging for the top positions; understandably, he wanted to poach that 10th place from Sainz at all costs.
Photo credit: Red Bull
As they made their way through Turn 1 and into Turns 2, 3 and 4, Albon was inching ever closer to the diffuser of Sainz’s McLaren, waiting for the right moment to strike. He searched for a gap around the outside of Turn 3 but was kept at bay, and again at Turn 4 where, while racing parallel to Sainz, he was respectfully ushered out of the way and confined to his position. Eventually, all ended well for both Sainz and Albon, as the former finished 6th with 8 points and the latter 8th with 4 points.
An action-packed Spanish Grand Prix awaits
It is true that the periods of high-intensity action listed above were some of the only exciting events throughout last year’s Spanish Grand Prix, but be in no doubt that a much more thrilling race awaits. With the drastically reordered grid that we have seen so far in 2021 and the slimming gaps between both teams and drivers, this season’s Spanish Grand Prix should be a treat to watch.